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  • 3 minutes read
  • Sep 09, 2020

Digitizing materials is becoming a more common place practice especially in the ever evolving world of progressing technology. It is an extremely important concept for making more materials (in our case historical materials) accessible. Digitization is a broad term with various applications that make sense for each type of digitization. For materials that are visual such as photography, “image scanning, microfilming and then scanning the microfilm, photography followed by scanning of the photographic surrogates, rekeying (typing in) of textual content, OCR (OpticalCharacter Recognition) of scanned textual content, encoding textual content to create a marked-up digital resource, and advanced imaging techniques for large format or specialist items” would be the best approaches according to article author Melissa Terras. She goes on to discuss that sound and moving images can also be digitized, by re-recording video and audio onto digital media. The creation of digital images is considered to be the most common practice using digitization. 

When capturing a digitalized version of an item, it is almost impossible to capture the entirety of that item. In the exercise I completed for the module this week, I learned what aspects of an item can be captured and what simply cannot be captured when digitizing. Some of the elements that were fairly easy to capture were, the color and the size of the item. When taking a photograph for digitization, one must keep in mind the lighting of the photo and consider using something for scale for that item. Taking a video of an item is another way a user can use digitization. In a video of the item the user would be able to see more elements such as sound, to be able to see all sides, and see the texture better than one image of that item. Now onto the things that are more difficult to capture. The smell of a specific item cannot be captured in digitized form. Although there are various ways digitization can capture a physical item, it will never be able to capture 100% of that item as one sees the item in person.

Working with digitized representations can be extremely beneficial to be able to gain access to countless digitized resources that one would not be able to have access to if those resources were not in digital form.  Historians and researchers will be able to conduct their research using these materials from where ever they are in world, if the digitized materials are accessible on the internet. In the case of photographs that have been digitally restored, people can now see and study images that may have been lost to us due to damage, or the ability to enhance those images digitally in size, color, sharpness, etc. Digitized materials can be used for educational purposes in the classroom, research, documentation, and scholarship. The possibilities for using these digitized representations are truly endless. As historians and digital humanists digitization helps us understand our subject fields and fosters new and improving projects.

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